Written by contributor Hillary Boucher
When I think about homeschooling I usually focus on my children. What are their needs? What makes them tick? What peeks their interest?
What would support their growth and build skills and confidence?
I usually don’t spend much time thinking about myself, my relationship to homeschooling and the emotions that homeschooling brings up for me. And that’s a mistake.
It feels like we have so much to teach our children. There are letters and language, mythology and history, geography and maps. There are stars to chart, complex equations to solve and don’t forget the table of periodic elements.
Life is serious, the world is competitive and we want our kids to live up to their full potential. They are amazing after all.
Homeschooling has asked me to grow exponentially and on many different levels. Similar to (and not really different from) parenting, this journey humbles me. Just when you think you have figured something out the proverbial rug is pulled out from under your feet.
Homeschooling asks a lot of me. It asks me to be better organized and incredibly compassionate, patient and creative. It asks me to do these things on days when I’m tired or stressed.
If the kids would just do everything I asked with sweet smiles on their faces life would be oh so easy!
Much of the time the way they learn doesn’t line up with how I would prefer to do things. I’m worried about reading and they are engrossed in building with k’nex. It’s all learning I tell myself and learning doesn’t happen linearly.
When I was a student in Catholic school we sat in rows and we started with chapter one and without a doubt we moved to chapter two. There was no variance.
But at home sometimes chapter one doesn’t make sense or it’s just not interesting. And chapter 17 on ancient Greece civilization is more engaging because we just read Percy Jackson and the Olympians. That’s the beauty of homeschooling — we are able to follow our children’s interests and truly tailor their learning journey so that it suits them.
It would be easier for me if we started at the beginning, moved through the middle and arrived at the expected ending. It would make me more comfortable and it would be easier to plan, measure and report.
It would be easier if he liked doing workbooks. And then I could say, “Look he’s learning math! He loves his math workbooks.” But he doesn’t. In fact if he even catches a whiff of us trying to teach him something he shuts down.
But if he’s engaged and doing things he loves it’s amazing to watch the learning unfold, but that kind of learning can’t be planned and it doesn’t fit into state required paperwork. It is non-linear, overlapping and always evolving. It doesn’t tie up neatly in a bow.
And herein lies my biggest homeschooling mistake. I mistakenly thought I would somehow be exempt from the growth and learning that I expected from them. I thought that somehow because I was the parent or the “teacher” that I would hold the wisdom and that would make my role easier.
I expected them to have to figure it out, stretch and learn. I didn’t realize how closely my growth was connected to theirs.
My mistake was thinking that by giving my kids the freedom to learn on their own timeline and in their own way, it would be easy or neatly packaged in a way that satisfied my desire to feel in control and successful as a homeschooling parent.
But homeschooling is no different than parenting. You are in partnership with your child and you take turns leading and following, teaching and learning. Remembering that I am every bit a student on this journey is a big piece of humble of pie.
What is your biggest homeschooling mistake?